The humble slow cooker’s a workhorse. Not only does it cook veggies and your fave meats like pork, chicken, and beef to tender perfection, but it can also please a crowd at parties by acting as the stand-in bartender with its big batches of warming drinks.

Most slow-cooker drink recipes will “cook” for 2 to 4 hours on low, with the lid on to prevent too much liquid from evaporating. Once your batch of beverages is complete, switch the temperature setting to warm, and stir every hour. Dairy-based drinks like hot chocolate can be kept on warm for 2 hours, while non-dairy drinks like mulled wine can be kept on warm for up to 4 hours. Here are some basic recipes to get you started.

Slow-Cooker Hot Chocolate

(Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 cups milk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or roughly chopped chocolate of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon of mint, almond, or vanilla extract (optional)
  • mini marshmallows, to garnish

Instructions:

1. Combine the ingredients in the slow cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low, stirring every 30 minutes, until the chocolate is completely melted, about 2 hours total.

3. Ladle into mugs, and garnish with mini marshmallows.

Slow-Cooker Mulled Wine

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (or brandy)
  • 2 -3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2-3 whole star anise
  • 6 whole cloves

Instructions:

1. Combine ingredients in slow cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours.

3. Ladle into mugs, and serve warm.

Slow-Cooker Chai Tea

(Serves 12)

Ingredients:

  • 12 black tea bags
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 (3-inch) knob fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorn
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Instructions:

1. Add all ingredients except for the milk to the slow cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.

3. Remove tea bags and stir in sweetened condensed milk.

4. Ladle into mugs, and serve warm.

For more slow-cooker recipes, follow Brit + Co on Pinterest!

(Illustration via Yising Chou; photos via Getty Images)